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WEB-BASED SURVEY TECHNIQUES SUMMARY This synthesis of transit research describes how web-based surveys are being used by transit agencies and other transit researchers and documents the experiences of web-based survey research as applied to transit. In addition, this study documents not only the current state of the practice, but also provides a resource for successful practices in web-based surveying, discusses the technologies necessary to conduct web-based surveys, and presents some spe- cific case studies of transit agency use of web-based survey techniques. This synthesis describes the survey conducted and the processes used, as it provided a sample of web-based survey research. The results of this synthesis survey are described in detail to understand the state of the practice in current transit research, such as what types of studies are being conducted, how studies are being administered, and whether or not studies are using web-based survey techniques. If researchers are using web-based surveys, the syn- thesis survey asked why they were doing so and how they were implementing them, and then requested specific comments on what they see as the strengths and limitations of these sur- veys. If web-based surveys are not being used, the synthesis survey asked why not and probed as to whether web-based methods might be used in the future. The synthesis also describes successful practices of web-based surveys and research, with a particular emphasis on understanding the strengths and limitations of all survey methods. Because different survey methods have different levels and types of survey error, a section of the report discusses how to best conduct a study using multiple survey methods to opti- mize the strengths of each survey method while mitigating their limitations. There were 175 researchers at both transit agencies and in the private sector in the selected/convenience sample of potential respondents that the topic panel and consultant chose to survey. Of those, 25 responses were received from researchers at transit agencies and 11 from researchers in the private sector of the transit industry. A discussion on how to implement web-based survey technology is also included to pro- vide transit researchers with an understanding of the options and costs involved in imple- menting web-based survey technologies and some of the issues in doing so. Finally, the study details three case studies of transit research where web-based surveys were conducted and the methods used in each. The main finding from the survey conducted for this study (it was web-based, of course) is that although a significant number of transit researchers are using web-based survey meth- ods (approximately 40% of respondents), most respondents are currently not. It is also pos- sible that transit researchers not currently conducting web-based surveys may have not responded to the synthesis survey believing it was not relevant to them. Of those who did respond, the primary reason cited for not using web-based survey research was concern about the limited Internet access of transit customers. This was also cited as a major limitation of web-based survey research by those who are conducting web-based surveys in the transit environment.

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2 Another important finding was that of those researchers conducting web-based surveys, these surveys tended to be for "limited-focus" studies, such as surveys of employers in the transit service area, transit agency employees, product tests, marketing evaluations, new offers, and programs related to fares and fare payment cards and interactive map studies. The synthesis ends with the conclusions including the following aspects of web-based sur- veys that transit agencies have found to be successful: Start simply with web-based surveys to learn the differences between web-based sur- veys and other survey methods. Attempt to collect databases of e-mails from customers and potential customers to use as a sampling source for research. Apply web-based survey methods in a multi-method survey environment to improve response rates by providing response alternatives and to enable the transit researcher to gain the benefits of web-based survey data and techniques. This finding is made know- ing that measurement error is an issue with multi-method surveys; therefore, this must be balanced against the benefits. Research the issue of coverage error and try to minimize sampling bias. Remain cautious but optimistic about including web-based surveys in research pro- grams as the survey methods and the Internet mature.